A Father’s Love…

 

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Tomorrow is Father’s Day.

It’ll be my first Father’s Day without my dad.  He passed away in September.

Dad was an amazingly humble man.  Generous.  Honorable.  Loyal.  Sacrificial.

Dad was a West Point grad, an Army officer who served his country with distinction, a loving husband for over 60 years, and a father to 4 children.

He didn’t brag of his awards or achievement – in fact, many I didn’t find out about until after his death.

I have many fond memories of my dad…the time he called me up during college and sang, “I just called to say I love you!”  The summer we spent together performing with a summer stock company.  Watching him putter around in the garden or garage.  His affection for the beauty of a clock.  Playing a game of tennis with him…and him always yelling to me over the net, “Don’t forget your follow-thru!” or “Stronger wrist!”

At various times in my life I would walk with him and talk about things.  He was a good listener.

His last few years of life here on earth were rough for this man’s man.  He struggled a lot.  And although he had accepted the Lord in his 70s, he wrestled with his faith during his last year.  He wanted more answers than we could give.

He finally came to the place where he just wanted peace…God’s peace.  He longed to be in His presence.  There was a moment when my sister and I were sitting on either side of him, praying, laughing, and crying a bit.  When both of us were longing for God to allow Him to come home….to truly be in His presence…to know complete peace.  That was not the moment though.

I was blessed to be with my mom and dad on my father’s last night here on earth.  I am at a loss as to how to describe the night.  Death is not natural…it is awful.  Watching my dad struggle…being unable to truly help him was devastating.  I desperately did not want him to die…and yet, desperately wanted him free of that painful, failing body of his.

There was a moment that night when I was holding him and trying to comfort him that is more precious than I can say.  My Dad couldn’t talk well…could barely whisper. (Although he could still utter a quite firm “No!” when he didn’t want us to do something – must have been the military officer in him J)  I said, “Daddy, I love you so much.”  And he whispered, “I love you too.”  It isn’t like my dad hadn’t said it a thousand times before because he had.  But in that moment when I knew every word was a tremendous labor, it meant the world to me.  I would have understood a nod, but I cherished completely those whispered words.

Those were the last words my Dad said to me.  How awesome is that?  I’m so honored that I got to be with him that night.  So thankful that God provided that opportunity.

But as I look forward to Father’s Day tomorrow…I don’t know what to do.  I can tell that it has affected me more than I thought it would.  Today I was invited to a graduation party, a wedding, and a birthday party.  And I feel like all I want to do is hide.  I just want time to think quietly.  To spend with God.

That’s part of this single parent life that is challenging.  Finding the time to be still, to be in God’s presence without interruption, to feel things…with 5 children around all the time, I find it hard to allow myself to truly feel things.  I don’t think my children need to see the depth of my emotions.  That is between God and me.  Today my kids are with their Dad and I’m trying to spend the day with my Heavenly Father.

Sometimes I feel closest to Him when I write…it feels like often He is sitting right beside me.  Reminding me of things.  Opening my eyes to His truths.  Revealing things I need to face.  Soothing my heart.

I’m comfortable in His presence because I know He loves me just the way I am.

 

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God loves me just like my dad.   He speaks that love to me in a million ways.  There is so much to be thankful for…my children who bring me to my knees daily in prayer, petition and thanksgiving, my family who loves me, my friends who stand by me, my home, my garden which is thriving despite my black thumb, the beautiful sky which my kids tell me I take way too many pictures of, this sunny, spring day, the sounds of spring outside – lawns being mowed, dogs barking, and birds chirping,  the ice cold Coke right next to me (it’s my fav), the Bible that comforts and convicts me…so many things.

 

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I look forward to the day when I can see my Dad again…and I look forward to the day when I will see my Savior face to face and hear His voice say, “I love you!”  And I will hug Him tightly and say, “I LOVE YOU TOO!”

But I can say that now.  In fact, I feel like I should live the day responding to His loving care by saying, “Father, I love you too.”

I’m so thankful that my dad is now with his and my Heavenly Father…and tomorrow when I might be tempted to be sad, I’m going to choose to instead thank my Heavenly Father for loving me so well!

And for giving me a dad here on earth who loved me too.

What does God have for us?

photo (6)I’m trying to get papers filed.  Trying being the optimum word.  One of my best friends says, “The difference between trying and doing is actually getting something done.”  I don’t think I quoted that exactly, but you get the idea.

I’ve gotten a lot done, but sometimes I feel like I just shuffle things around.  Usually when I’m organizing I feel like I’m just moving things from one floor or room of my house to another.  I’m working on it though.  I really am.

So, I decided I was going to go through a bunch of boxes and get some order back.  And I found a plastic box full of pages I’d ripped out of magazines – mostly Country Living.  Pictures of rooms, furniture, arrangements, and anything else I loved.  I think I’d planned on making a binder of my favorite things because I found page protectors in the box as well.  Sounds like a good project for one of my creative kids :)!

Looking at all the pictures brought a smile to my face.  I enjoy dreaming about, looking forward to and planning for the future.  Imagining wonderful things.

Recently I was sharing with a friend how when I found out about my husband’s affair and knew the potential of him leaving, I imagined what our life would be like if we reconciled.  I thought about how our relationship could be better than ever, how our love could be stronger, and how we could have a vital ministry to others who were struggling. When reconciliation didn’t happen, God refined my vision.

Now I look forward to what God is going to do in my life in a different way.  I look forward to what God is going to do in the lives of my children.  I have great hopes and dreams for us all!

“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”  – William Carey

I think it is part of the forgetting what lies behind and straining towards what is ahead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 3:12-14

Catching the vision of what God has for us.

What does God have for us?

Whatever it is, God uses some interesting words to describe our journey to get it.

Pressing and straining.

Pressing.  During my brief running career a few years ago, I recall at the beginning of my “training” (it is in quotes because I didn’t really train well – hence the brevity of my running career) I would run increasingly longer distances but always the first mile or so was absolute torture and the final ½ mile would seem like slogging through mud.  During both of those times I’d have to keep my focus ahead and press with my whole body to move forward.  It was a pressing of feet on pavement, a pressing of body into the momentum forward, a pressing of breath in and out…pressing onward…

Straining.  That one isn’t difficult to imagine – especially with my running analogy.  There was always an element of straining…and panting, plodding, trudging, and wooziness…I’m not a good runner (especially with the broken foot!)

In thinking about pressing and straining in my walking (or running) out my faith, I believe having a vision is helpful.

When I have something to strive for, I do better.  Although with running I don’t need a stop sign or a set tree to run to – in fact, I’d prefer not to have a visual because sometimes I just feel like I’ll NEVER get there.  But if I have a vision of the end, then I enjoy running more.  I imagine how I’ll feel at the end, the sense of accomplishment, the joy of being done!

I think I might be a little bit like that in my spiritual life as well.

I don’t need to actually see where I’m going…

Hey! That sounds a little like faith!

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

I think what I need is a very clear vision of what I have to look forward to…and that gets me back to the question, “What does God have for us?”

“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance…”  Hebrews 9:15

So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Let not your heart be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.   John 14:1-3

And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life.  1 John 2:25

Thinking about eternal life is all well in good.  But does eternal life necessarily mean good life?

I say, “YES!”  A whole-hearted yes!

I believe eternal life is all things wonderful!  John describes it like this:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.  Revelation 21:3-4

 I don’t imagine heaven is a place of clouds, harps, and wings.  I believe heaven is very much like what we are familiar with in terms of earth – He does refer to it as the new heaven and the new earth.  I tell my kids we will get to enjoy all the wonderful things this earth has to offer but it will be perfect! No fear, no worries, no violence, no pain.  What’s not to like about that!?

Recognizing what I have to look forward to helps me press on through sorrow, pain, trouble, challenges, and even things that are pretty good by this world’s standards to strive to live a life of peace, joy and service here.

“When the Bible speaks of the new heaven and the new earth, it is not speaking of an alternative to this world; it is speaking of the healing and restoration of this world. This gives Christians a reason to participate in restoring this fallen world. Furthermore, because Christians know that there is a perfect world coming, they don’t put all their hope in the current world. Christians can sacrificially serve others because they value the things of the coming world more than the things of this world.”  – Tim Keller

And the most important part of heaven is Jesus.

Oh my goodness!  Epiphany!  The vision – the goal, the hope, the joy, the thing to look forward to is JESUS!

 “There will be little else we shall want of heaven besides Jesus Christ.  He will be our bread, our food, our beauty, and our glorious dress.  The atmosphere of heaven will be Christ; everything in heaven will be Christ-like: yes, Christ is the heaven of His people.  – C.H. Spurgeon

 I guess there is something…I mean Someone I want to keep as my focus, my focal point as I run this faith race.

“A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.” 

– C.S. Lewis

I pray as we all run this race we will keep our eyes on the prize, on Jesus.

So the answer to the question, “What does God have for us?” is JESUS.